Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Friday, January 17, 2014

A few first impressions of the 2014 Oscar race

Yesterday morning, the race for the Oscars officially set off as the nominations for the 86th annual film awards ceremony were announced.

As usual,there were a number of surprises both good for some and bad for others. To many, it wasn't a shocker that certain movies such as Lee Daniel's' The Butler, Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks wouldn't make the cut with the likes of 12 Years a Slave,American Hustle and Philomena were waiting in the wings.

What did shock me was seeing "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" actually receiving an Oscar nomination(for Best Makeup/Hair). Granted, it was along side The Lone Ranger and The Dallas Buyers Club,which will probably win, but did it have to be honored at all? The latest Hobbit movie alone certainly could've taken it's place!

Anyhow,here are some of my initial thoughts regarding this year's crop of Hollywood hopefuls and a few predictions that are subject to change:

BEST ACTRESS BRAWL:  At the moment,this is a two woman contest with Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock being strong contenders for the award. Both Judi Dench and Meryl Streep(with her Susan Lucci status in this category) as past winners are pretty much place holders here.

However,Cate and Sandra might very well get taken out of the game by Amy Adams ,who ironically enough plays a stealthy con artist in American Hustle.
While I haven't seen this movie(or a lot of the nominated films,as I am a lady of limited means), I do know that Amy has built up a solid resume of work that combines both indie fare and box office blockbusters,plus a good amount of good will,which helps in situations like this.

She may turn out to be the bridesmaid again but my pop culture instinct tells me that this time around, Amy Adams could be the Oscar winning bride this season:

BEST SONG BALLY-HOO: I am happy to see that five songs were nominated for Best Original Song this time out,what with this category getting the short end of the musical stick over the past few years.

While there will be folks grumbling in the cheap seats about Inside Llewyn Davis not qualifying for any spots here(now you know how I felt about a certain song from The Bodyguard not being tapped for this honor!), there is plenty to enjoy with Pharrell Williams offering up "Happy" from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack and a bit of unexpected controversy with one of the other nominees.

The theme song from a barely released film "Alone Yet Not Alone" made the cut,which is baffling a good number of music fans but an explanation can be found. Turns out the songwriter of this tune was once a president of The Society of Composers and Lyricists as well as a current governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,aka the folks who run the Academy Awards. Quite the well connected fellow,wouldn't you say?

Despite that kerfluffle, the odds-on favorite to win is "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen,even with Bono winning the Golden Globe for "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Nothing against the latter but Bono can be a real pretentious ass and after losing out on an Oscar to Eminem several years ago, his entitlement level for this prize is rather high, I'm sure.

 "Let It Go" is a wonderfully rousing song that celebrates being different and embracing your true self, making it the better choice for the win. Plus, if they get Idina Menzel to sing it live, that will be the cinematic cherry on the Oscar night sundae:

BEST PICTURE BLOW OUT: We have nine films up for the ultimate prize and with so many of them to choose from, I'm actually starting to miss the days when there were only five to deal with.

Well, let's take a look-see at what we got; American Hustle does seem to have a lot of love from the industry,given it's sweep at the Golden Globes and will most likely take home a few trophies but not completely sure the Academy voters will adore it's dark cynicism all that much. Ditto for The Wolf of Wall Street,which earned Jonah Hill a Best Supporting Actor spot and Leo DiCaprio is no doubt savoring the possibility of his first Oscar as Best Actor.

Her,the Spike Jonze film about a guy falling in love with his computer system, is frankly a hard film for me to take seriously as it's main story line is too much like a subplot from The Big Bang Theory and I suspect I'm not alone in that.

Philomena and Nebraska are both small yet sweet natured stories about older folk,which could resonate with many of the voters but perhaps not with the full majority of them. Gravity was a thoughtful blockbuster, a double whammy that makes it a rather odd duck  as well as a long shot for a major win.

 Dallas Buyers Club is also bound to get a trophy or two that night(Matthew McConaughey is a front runner for Best Actor and Jared Leto has a good shot at Best Supporting) and perhaps Captain Phillips might get one as well( it would be nice for Barkhad Abdi to win for his first time out) however the momentum for either of these films to take the top honors home is hardly noticable.

Therefore, my best bet would be on 12 Years a Slave to win for Best Picture and I hope that several other Oscars are able to join it(particularly for the actors as well as Best Adapted Screenplay by John Ridley). Insiders say that Best Director might go to David O. Russell for American Hustle while 12 Yrs get the Best Picture trophy,which has happened in times past.  However,the Director's Guild award hasn't been handed out yet and that is a better indicator of who will win in that category.

It's not only the cultural aspect of the film that shines an unforgiving light on the subject of slavery in America that makes this story so compelling;12 Years a Slave also has a universal connection in that the leading man(in this based on a true story piece) is a person confronted with a completely new reality to exist in and must use all the resources of his inner self to not only survive but persevere.

12 Years a Slave is a next level achievement and I feel that the time is right for the Academy to acknowledge that. Yes, I haven't seen it yet but as a lifelong follower of the arts, I know true quality when I see it in any context:

There is still plenty of time before the big night to sort this all out,with more award shows to up the ante or downplay the momentum for many of the contenders. While I wish we had a more engaging host than Ellen DeGeneres(she's nice enough and did a decent job the last time she had the gig but a Neil Patrick Harris type of MC would certainly jump start the ratings), she will be a pleasant relief from Seth McFarlane's shenanigans at least:

1 comment:

Thaddeus said...

Oh, I absolutely understand the struggle of loving and commenting on films but lacking the resources to watch the ones you're "supposed to see."

12 Years is still on my list of must-watches, and I will absolutely check it out in theaters before the Oscars come up.

I must say, that this year is full of many gaps in films that should have gotten nods. One friend rightly complains about the VFX awards. How do you give it to Lone Ranger or Star Trek Into Darkness but leave out Pacific Rim?

This is the same Academy that nominated Avatar for Best Picture, so I sometimes have nothing but vitriol/cynicism about the whole affair...